What is it like to truly communicate with one of the world’s most sentient animals of all time, the dolphin?
Just ask Keller Laros, a scuba diving instructor of Kailua-Kona, Hawaii...
No stranger to fame, Laros has quite the impressive list of accomplishments which include: his own television show “Hawaiian Diving Adventures,” author of a PADI Manta Ray Specialty Certification, key component in the creation of the Manta Pacific Research Foundation, and as of late, dolphin rescuer!
On January 11, 2013, Keller Laros took a group of scuba divers out into the ocean off the Kona Coast of Hawaii for a night dive where they would be viewing Manta Rays. While enjoying their dive and observing the Manta Rays, Keller noticed an odd sight: a solitary dolphin was lurking in the water around the divers. With his vast knowledge of marine life, Laros immediately noted the following strange behaviors that the dolphin was displaying:
- The dolphin was alone, no other dolphins in sight.
- The dolphin seemed to swim right up to the divers, whereas most would swim hurriedly away fearing any sort of human threat.
- The dolphin seemed to be in some sort of distress – he was not moving fluidly and swimming gracefully through the ocean as dolphins are known to do.
Almost immediately after realizing these oddities, the dolphin defied typical expectations even further by swimming right up to Keller Laros and essentially “showing” him what was wrong: the dolphin had a fishing hook stuck in his pectoral fin, with the attached fishing line wrapped around the fin entangling the dolphin and restricting its movement.
For several minutes, Laros worked tirelessly to remove the hook and untangle the fishing line from the dolphin’s fin. The entire time, the dolphin stuck right by the diver and without fear, allowed Laros to work his magic. After going up for air, the dolphin once again dove down into the water and with a wave of his hand, Keller motioned for the dolphin to come closer so he could continue to remove the line. The dolphin followed instruction as if it had understood the diver’s hand motion. After minutes of close interaction, Keller Laros was able to finally free the bottlenose dolphin from entanglement and the dolphin swam away, leaving the divers to the Manta Rays.
Thanks to Martina S. Wing, the entire rescue was caught on video and later uploaded to Youtube.com. Within days, the video went viral and Laros became a marine life hero. People all over the world have been moved to tears by the dolphin’s brave approach of the diver, the intelligent way the dolphin communicated its distress and showed the origin of its pain, and finally, the gentle way Keller Laros was able to remove the hook and fishing line freeing the dolphin to once again swim fluidly (*Note, the commentary of Ms. Wing’s video claims that the hook was not removed. This claim was later retracted by Wing, but the video has not since been edited because doing so would result in a loss of all the beautiful and supportive comments).
The video ends with a quotation from Martina S. Wing, “I was at the right place at the right time… Let’s make better decisions for the ocean and the creatures that inhabit it. I strive to make a difference, and you can make one too!”
Dolphins are spotted by tourists and locals alike in Virginia Beach, always bringing great joy to those lucky enough to experience the chance sighting. Unfortunately, not all of us are scuba instructors with the knowledge and tools to be able to save every distressed dolphin. Here are some practical tips to you can keep our beaches and marine life safe:
- Pick up all trash you come across on the beach… this waste will eventually make its way into the water and cause serious threats to marine animals.
- Travel the ocean responsibly, whether you’re boating, kayaking, jet-skiing, whatever the activity – be mindful of the water. Never throw any waste overboard!
- Educate yourself! Read up on local policies and marine life. Stay informed. Education is the antithesis to ignorance!
- Fishermen (and fisherwomen)! – be careful of how you dispose of fishing lines!
As Martina said, luckily her and Keller Laros were in the right place at the right time and were able to save this particular dolphin, but other dolphins and marine life are not always so lucky. Once again, the message here is to stop and think about your actions and what kind of effect they will have on our environment.
Lastly, Keller Laros’ dolphin rescue and the millions of views that the video has received, along with the overwhelming feedback of love and gratitude, is a wonderful testament of humanity and selfless care toward the Earth and the beautiful creatures that inhabit it.
For those who believe that animals are not intelligent and cannot communicate. I dare you to watch this video and not be moved to change your views.